Last year, I wrote to Santa every day in Advent and, on the very last day, I told him a story. It is a tale that my mother told me when I was a pup, from the Long Remembering of our kind. She said that it is really a story just for the four-legses like me, and that if I ever had puppies of my own, I should tell it to them, so they would not forget.
I never had puppies… just my boys and I gave them all the love I would have given to my pups. But stories need to be shared lest they be forgotten. So, from my heart to yours, let me tell you of a time long ago…
We knew when the Child had been born.
Their Book doesn’t tell them about that, does it? Just the sheep and the choirs of angels. It doesn’t mention the dogs.
They didn’t see how we pricked up our ears and twitched our noses. How we raised our faces to the night and how those with a voice joined the song of the stars.
They do not tell how we guarded the Child as he grew. How we taught him to laugh and play in the dusty streets. Of his hands on our ears or our head on his knee. Of the tears he wept into our fur and the comfort we gave when the days were cruel.
We are just dogs. By the time they told his story, they had forgotten us.
But still we watched. Those who could worked, guarding their flocks, chasing down game or rodents. We were just creatures to whom they threw a crust or a bone. Or pests; homeless wanderers, unwanted and unloved. Some, it is true, lost faith and sank into their darkness.
It hadn’t always been that way.
We had crept close to their fires long, long ago, in the savage times when their life was hard, sent to teach them of love and loyalty. To show them how to work together. To help them grow. We cared for them, guarding their sleep, teaching them the way of the hunt, cleaning the discarded food from their camps and keeping the rats away from their cradles.
They have forgotten. How could they not? Their memories turn inwards now. They have lost the Long Remembering and see only today and yesterday in their quest for tomorrow. They do not understand that the memory of their kind is still deep in their bones.
Yet it is from the bones of their ancestors that they begin to remember. Over thirty thousand turns of the sun ago, they laid us to rest beside their dead. There are those who begin to see the role we played and how it was our presence in their lives that helped them become what they are today.
We do remember. We know why we are here, walking beside them, helping them learn who they can be. Comforting them in the dark times. We know our place in the Great Order of life.
And we know when a Child of Light comes into the world.
We have watched them come, one by one. Their words and their lives tossed around like toys, their bodies often broken by Man’s cruelty and fear. Man is a fearful creature after all. Yet every time, some of them hear and learn. Some of them see the spark of Light in the words and deeds… and see then forever that same spark shining in every living creature.
We need no Star. We always feel the birth of Love. It calls to us, for it is what we are. They need no Star either, they only think they do. They think too much and let themselves feel too little.
It is told that some of our kind were there, with the sheep and the shepherds that night.
Perhaps it is true. Perhaps, like many stories, it is only a story. Yet truth wears many guises and can be hidden in many places. The Long Remembering knows truth, not just a narrow reality.
We know too that every child is a Child of Light. Guard them well, They told us, and teach them how to Love.
Who knows which of them will change the world?